20 Feb 2019

Whānau Ora Minister's concern over lack of knowledge of services

4:00 pm on 20 February 2019

The Minister for Whānau Ora says other government agencies need to get on board with its approach.

Peeni Henare

Minister Peeni Henare says he wants to see the Whānau Ora approach expand into other agencies. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Peeni Henare has just released the findings of the government's review of Whānau Ora, an initiative that provides wrap-around social services for families.

The Whānau Ora Review Report - Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao report shows that the initiative is working well for Māori and Pacific families and it could be expanded.

"The panel came back with a reaffirmation that the kaupapa of Whānau Ora is a positive one, that achieves aspirational change for families," Mr Henare said.

He wants to see the Whānau Ora approach expand into other government agencies, but said there were concerns that a number of them still did not know what Whānau Ora was.

"Government agencies are even unsure as to what Whānau Ora is and what Whānau Ora services are and that is a concern given Whānau Ora has been going for well over five years now, and we need to change that."

"Despite Whānau Ora having great outcomes, we know that over 80 percent of our Māori and Pacific Island people come into contact with government services. That's a reality. So how do we serve them better? I think Whānau Ora is the way to do that."

The report also found that the way Whānau Ora is administered, through three commissioning agencies, is effective and sustainable.

The Whānau Ora Review Panel, lead by consultant Caren Rangi, carried out the review between April and November last year.

Concerns were raised last year when Whānau Ora received no new money in Budget 2018, and instead the review was launched.

At the Iwi Chairs Forum in Waitangi in January, iwi leaders expressed concern that they had not yet seen the report, which was due in November.

Mr Henare hoped the findings of the report had allayed some fears within Māori communities that Whānau Ora was on the chopping block.

"When we came in, we were always clear that we were going to review this kaupapa, not to get rid of it, because I know that was some of the belief out in the community, but actually what it does is it aligns really well with the wellbeing kaupapa of this government," Mr Henare said.

"Whānau Ora is the way forward for this country."

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